Floodplains by Design

What is Floodplains by Design?

Floodplains by Design is a public-private partnership working to reduce flood risk, restore habitat, and create naturally resilient communities along Washington’s major rivers . Funding from Washington State supports large-scale, multiple-benefit projects through the Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design grant program. The Floodplains by Design approach is locally-driven and based on collaboration and partnership to find solutions that work for all. It’s a new way to think about floodplains and how to manage them.

Visit the Floodplains by Design website to learn more.  Watch this short video highlighting Floodplains by Design projects across the state.  

The Nooksack River: Floodplains that Work 

The Nooksack River: Floodplains that Work is the name of our community-driven Floodplains by Design approach to managing the Nooksack River floodplain. The Whatcom County Flood Control Zone District is leading this effort, bringing diverse interests together to find mutually agreeable solutions that work for the community and achieve project goals to:

  • Reduce flood hazards
  • Improve habitat 
  • Increase the resiliency of our rural communities
  • Support a viable agricultural economy  

Whatcom County is seeking $6.5 million in funding for the Nooksack River: Floodplains that Work Phase 2 in the 2021-2023 Washington State budget. Phase 2 builds on work currently underway in Phase 1. The county received over $6 million from a Floodplains by Design grant in 2019 to fund Phase 1 projects with a $1.5 million (20%) local funding match from the Flood Control Zone District. The Floodplains by Design grant funding allows the county to develop and implement integrated floodplain management projects at a scale that is not possible with local funding alone. 

Phase 1 

Phase 1 Project Accomplishments 2020-2023

  • Ferndale Levee Improvement Project Preliminary Design – develop the preliminary design for this project to improve riparian habitat and reduce flood hazards for the City of Ferndale water and wastewater treatment plants, the Public Utility No. 1 of Whatcom County water treatment facility, residential neighborhoods, parks, and farmland
  • Lynden Levee Improvement Project Final Design and Construction – complete the final design and construction on a project that improves fish habitat and reduces flood hazards for the City of Lynden wastewater treatment plant, farmland, and public roadways
  • Reach 4 Levee Reconfiguration Land Acquisition – reduce flood hazards for the Deming and Nugent’s Corner communities, reduce repetitive levee repair costs, and restore habitat-forming processes
  • Jones Creek Debris Flow Mitigation Land Acquisition – purchase land in the Acme community for debris flow mitigation to restore habitat-forming process and protect life, a school, homes, and farmland 
  • Glacier-Gallup Creek Alluvial Fan Restoration Preliminary Design  - gather community input and complete a preliminary design for an alluvial fan restoration project to restore habitat-forming processes and protect life and reduce flood hazards for the Glacier community and State Route 542
  • Agricultural Integration  – provide support for farmers and the agricultural community through the Floodplain Integrated Planning Process

Phase 2


Paula Harris, P.E.
River and Flood Engineering Manager
(360) 778-6230

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